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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Home repair scammers target the elderly

Keep an eye on your elderly neighbors, especially those at risk of being victimized by an unscrupulous home improvement contractors, Detective Ryan Young advised the public at the May 6 meeting of the Mason Police District’s Citizen Advisory Committee.

In many cases, these solicitors, known as “woodchucks,” knock on doors and tell homeowners they can fix the roof, chop down dead trees, or do other jobs—usually for inflated prices. They often do shoddy work, or don’t do the job at all. Elderly homeowners with deteriorating mental capacities are most likely to fall for these scams.

In one case, Young said, a couple in Mason lost $80,000 in one of these scams. “If they find a vulnerable resident, they will suck them dry,” he said. “It’s only going to get worse, as the elderly population is increasing.“

He’s also seen a rise in phone scammers, which he acknowledged are much harder for the police to catch. Recently, people in Mason District have reported being told by phone solicitors they need to send money so they can get out of jury duty.

These scammers, often calling from overseas, are getting increasingly aggressive, Young said. They are giving the victim explicit directions about where to get a Green Dot card so they can send money.

Residents don’t know if their neighbors are falling for phone scams unless someone tells them, he noted, but if people see suspicious solicitors in the neighborhood, they should call the police non-emergency number, 703-691-2131.

1 comment:

  1. Ironically, one came to our door this afternoon selling windows and doing roof card available. Police ask for vehicle description and license number in order to check out. Unfortunately, did not see a vehicle. Going door to door in the Howard St.-Patricia St. area. Yes, they're out there.